I was browsing through Facebook last night and saw two different articles on the top ten things to do in Austin. They were basically the same, and they were pretty much just the “most famous” bits of Austin, far from the best.
Time to fix this problem! I decided to put together a list of ten particularly fantastic things to do in Austin, things that I love to do, and things that aren’t in all the other regurgitated lists you’ll find on many of the other sites.
This small music venue is famous, an Austin landmark, but surprisingly absent from many lists of the best that Austin has to offer. The quality of musicians is extremely high in Austin, and some of the best old musicians seem to end up playing random weekday spots down at the Continental Club.
The Continental Club is one of the few old music establishments in Austin that has managed to survive the growing urban sprawl, and it remains true to it’s roots to this day, whilst still delivering amazing bands every day of the week.
Cathedral of Junk
If you want the old school weird Austin, this is it. Not only did this man build an entire three story collection of buildings from cement and junk, but the Austin council tore it down for breaking safety regulations, and this man rebuilt it, to meet the standards.
The cathedral of junk is a wonderland built from discarded items. CD’s, electronics, bottles, surfboards, action figures, etc. If you can name it, it’s in there somewhere!
It doesn’t take long to see most of what the Cathedral of Junk has to offer, but it’s the details that will keep you there for much longer. Finding that one trinket that takes your mind on a crazy spiral down memory lane makes the Cathedral of Junk a worthwhile stop on any trip to Austin.
Don’t Go to Franklin’s
Check out LA Barbecue, Micklethwait, JSM Meat Co, Freedmen’s or maybe take a look at the downtown Austin BBQ tour!
If you really want to go to Franklin’s you might not regret it, but why give up a day on just one barbecue pit?
Phara’s Mediterranean Cuisine is a beautiful restaurant with a heart wrenching story behind it. For the most part though what makes Phara’s so great is the romantically lit large patio at the back, where belly dancers writhe between the tables, sometimes to live music, and sometimes even Phara herself will make an appearance!
The story behind Phara’s can be found here, and they regularly hold charity events that are a whole lot of fun, and benefit a great cause!
Any bar where things smell a little green
When I first arrived in this fine city I couldn’t help but notice that the bars I liked all had the faint aroma of marijuana hanging over their outdoor areas. I don’t smoke, but the smell of weed was a pretty good indicator that you had found a locals hangout.
The green smell has dissipated over the years, along with the locals, at a lot of central bars. But head out of downtown a little bit and you’ll probably notice the smell sooner than you might think.
If you want to chill with long term Austin locals, then find that haze and you’ll probably find them.
Breakfast at Star Seeds
The list of breakfast joints in Austin is unimaginably huge. My long time favorite however is Star Seeds cafe, a divey little 24 hour restaurant sitting on the side of the I35 access road. Star Seeds doesn’t look like much from the outside, but it’s breakfast menu delivers, especially if your previous night was a little rougher than you anticipated.
Their jumbo breakfast taco is my favorite hangover cure, mixed with copious amounts of coffee make this little highway-side restaurant a must visit for anyone who wants to know just how important breakfast is in Austin!
The Top of Castle Hill (Late at Night)
Castle Hill’s graffiti park (Officially the Hope Outdoor Art Gallery) has been getting a lot of press recently. And though it’s a cool spot during the day, I love to go up to the top of the hill at night and watch the lights of Austin spread out in front of me.
It’s one of my favorite spots in Austin to “get away” from the city, and though there’s usually other people around nowadays, it’s still not too hard to find a quite spot up there for you and your friends!
Deep Eddy Cabaret
This little dive bar hanging out along Lake Austin Boulevard was one of my earliest reviews on this site, and there’s a good reason for that. This bar might not look like much, but it’s where a lot of the long term Clarksville and Tarrytown residents hang out. It sometimes gets a little crowded on weekend night, but during the week expect to find friendly folks, cheap beers, and dim lights.
Cheap pool tables and one of the best happy hours in town help secure this as a local bar that needs to be on your list.
Disc Golf the Weekend Away
There’s also plenty of pick up games that can be found on Meetup and other social networking groups in Austin!
If you want to get started you can often find cheap discs on craigslist, you can visit most of Austin’s disc golf courses for free!
That place to the left instead of a right on the way to Twin Falls
We get it, Barton Springs is nice, I’ve enjoyed the times I’ve been there, but it’s not exactly a hidden Austin gem. When I have friends come in to town however, I don’t send them to the BS, I send them to the greenbelt.
If you’ve spent any time in Austin you’ve probably heard of Twin Falls. nestled in the green belt, a ten minute walk will get you down to a serene riverside walk, where the shallow (sometimes dry) river can be followed up to the falls, where people jump, drink and swim all day. But alas, the stream is small, and the crowds are ever increasing.
What many people don’t realize is that where the path down the hillside hits the river, you can clamber over some rocks and take a left instead of a right, and you’ll find yourself in a more secluded, quieter part of the river. There’s less policing down here, and more snakes (and skinny dipping) so this is not so much of a family friendly area, but perfect for adults looking to get a little more relaxed and close to nature!
If you have any other places that really make Austin “Austin” which aren’t so well known about – leave them in the comments!
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